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Union between Scotland and England?

The idea of a union between England and Scotland was aired in February and March 1689 during the deliberations of the Convention Parliament in Edinburgh. William III wrote to the Convention of his pleasure that so many of the Scots nobility and gentry favoured the proposal, especially since both nations shared the same landmass, language and attachment to the Protestant religion.

It would also, of course, help to secure the Revolution against ex-King James and the Jacobites.


As a result of this encouragement, the Convention appointed commissioners to negotiate with the English but met with a wall of disinterest.

A proposal for union was made in the Lords in 1695, but that, too, received short shrift.

In Scotland, however, the case for union found much favour among the political elite during the 1690s, mainly because of the poor state of the economy.

In 1699, there were discussions between politicians in London and Edinburgh and the English side acknowledged that a union might be in both nations' interest. The Scots hoped for a union of trade with vital access to English colonial markets.

Bill proposed

By early 1700 these talks had hardened into a legislative proposal backed by the King. At Westminster a bill for negotiating a union passed the Lords, but was thrown out by the Commons.

This example of continuing English inflexibility did little to dispel the intense anti-English attitudes that were rife in Scotland.

Next in line to the throne

The Bill of Rights in 1689 had declared that William and Mary would be succeeded by Mary's sister Anne, but it made no provision for the succession if Anne died childless.

William and Mary had no children, but the birth to Anne of a son - Prince William, the Duke of Gloucester - seemed to make the succession safe. But his death, aged 11 in 1700, changed that.

Westminster decision

The English Parliament at Westminster eventually declared in the Act of Settlement 1701 that after Princess Anne - James II's younger Protestant daughter - the succession would pass in the Protestant line to Sophia of Hanover and her heirs.

The Scottish Parliament chose to do nothing and it seemed as if they might well offer the Scottish crown to the exiled Stuarts.


Convention Parliament

A parliament not summoned by the monarch.

Darien scheme

The name of an unsuccessful attempt by Scotland to establish a colony called New Caledonia, in Panama, Central America in the 1690s


Supporters of the claim to the throne of James II, who abdicated in 1688, and his Stuart descendants, the ‘Old Pretender' James Edward Stuart and the ‘Young Pretender' Bonnie Prince Charlie. ‘Jacobus' is Latin for James.